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Avicenna (980-1032CE): The pioneer in treatment of depression

Mostafa Araj Khodaei, Ahmad Ali Noorbala, Zahra Parsian, Somaiyeh Taheri Targhi, Fatemeh Emadi, Fatemeh Alijaniha, Mohsen Naseri, Arman Zargaran


Background: The aim of this study is to clarify Avicenna’s point of views on neurology and psychiatry especially depression. Avicenna who is known as prince of physicians had a great contribution on medicine. He was a scholar not only in medicine, but also in logic, philosophy, astronomy and mathematics. Second volume of his masterpiece in medicine, “The Canon of Medicine”, has a chapter on neurological and psychiatric disorders. The book is divided into 5 volumes which was one of the main medical references in the east and the west until 17th century CE. Avicenna has considered different aspects of sadness and depression and pointed out to the relation between depression and various diseases.

Materials and methods: The Canon of Medicine as the most important reference of traditional Persian medicine has been searched on keywords such as “melancholia” and “sadness” to find the most overlap with the definition of depression. The extracted texts were finally compared with modern medicine.

Results: According to the traditional Persian medicine, mental states have direct effects on human well-being and development of diseases. Avicenna prevented and managed depression based on lifestyle modification, natural remedies and manipulation. Happiness, aromatherapy, and music therapy are common treatments for most diseases.

Conclusion: About 30 medicinal herbs have been introduced by Avicenna for treating and managing depression. Some of which have been emphasized to have antidepressant effects via clinical trials. A scientific review of Avicenna’s other proposed methods and terms can result in new treatments for depression. 

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